Panorama Tripod Head Angle Calculator
This tool can be used to calculate the tripod head angles when shooting panoramas. The solution is presented both graphically and as a table of shifts or indicated angular positions.
Notice: This tool is still under development and is not complete; though it does work. Primarily the UI is subject to change especially if I can find a better way to support mobile devices. Finally, if you have a particular tripod brand that uses a scale that’s not available in the drop down, please leave a comment with the brand and model and I’ll consider adding it in a future update.
Tripod Head Scale Type
Select the style of the pan (or tilt) markings on your particular tripod head.
Four company specific patterns are provided:
- Really Right Stuff’s 0 to 90 to 0 pattern with small marks at 2.5°, large marks every 5°, and numbers ever 15°
- Arca Swiss’s pattern of lines and dots (Z1/B1) pattern of dots every 5°, and lines every 15°
- (Work in progress) Acra Tech’s pattern of lines every 5° and numbers every 15°
- (Work in Progress) Markin’s pattern of lines every 5° with numbers every 30°
- A generic pattern with 5° increments and larger hashes every 15°
The order of these patterns was primarily chosen by the order in which I use tripod heads I own, sorry if your favorite isn’t listed. However, if you bookmark this page after selecting a tripod head scale type, your bookmark will retain your selection.
The Acra Tech and Markins tripod scales are currently a work in progress. I’m currently looking for better documentation (e.g. images) of how the planning scales are laid out. If you use these tripod heads, and want a better scale, leave a comment or contact me if you’re interested in helping me improve them.
If your tripod head isn’t included in the list, you can leave a comment suggesting what you have and I’ll look into adding it.
Shift Center Angle
The calculated angles are arranged symmetrically around a central angle such that the pano’s images will be symmetrical around a central frame. However, in many cases, the orientation of the base of the tripod head will not line up with 0°. Instead will have some other angle. The Shift Center Angle field allows you to shift the scale so that it lines up with the orientation of your tripod head.
The step angle is the angle needed to rotate between frames.
You can either calculate this yourself, or use my Depth of Field and Angle of View calculator to calculate a value targeting at 35% overlap rounded up to the nearest 2.5° increment. Clicking on the shift angle links in the DoF calculator will return you to this page with that angle set.
There is a small note field in the rendered images title block. A short note can be left in the note field to remind you, for example, of which lens and tripod that specific chart was created for. The note does not line wrap, though the font will squish some, so you cannot leave a long note.
The output graphics is now considerably larger, and more complex than it was originally. However, I think the new graphic is significantly easier to follow when using.
The top of the graphic is a title block for your reference. The title block displays the center angle, the shift angle, the tripod head mode that was used and a note field that you can leave an arbitrary message to yourself in. Note: the text of the note field does not persist.
Below the title block are 3 strips representing 120° arcs around the tripod. They correspond to the arcs show on the top down/tripod view below it. In order from top to bottom these are left rear, front, and right rear.
The arcs are arranged such that pan angles for any pano that requires 120° or less of shifting (regardless of the number of frames) can be read from one strip.
The left and right rear strips are slightly faded out to make them slightly less prominent than the front 120° strip.
Below the 3 linear strips is a radial chart looking from the top down on a tripod.
There are two sets of labels and arcs drawn around the tripod. The inner set of labels (light gray), and the corresponding arcs, represent the the angles that the camera lens would be pointing for the respected scale.
The outer set of arcs, and the associated labels (dark text) delineate the parts of the scale that correspond to that arc. These also delineate the which scales match up. E.g. the bottom 120° arc on the chart is labeled “Front”, this corresponds to the middle linear chart also labeled “Front”, and the camera would be pointed in the arc towards the front of the tripod labeled “Front” in light gray.
The scale around the tripod in this image should be read as if you were looking at the tripod head. That is the bottom of the scale should correspond with the value you’d see if you were standing behind the tripod head with the camera pointed away from you looking at the scale.
Finally, you can save this image for future reference (or offline use) by right clicking on it and selecting “Save image as…” or by clicking the “download” link at the top of the image.
Note, the download link does not work in all browsers. I’ve tested it Chrome 63 and Firefox this may not work in all browsers, I’ve tested successfully it in Chrome 63 and Firefox 57, both on Windows, as well as Safari on iOS.
2018-01-09: Added 2 new separate charts for small screen mobile devices. E.g. save the image to your phone and look at it in the field.
2018-01-08: Major upgrade/overhaul of the rendered chart.
2018-01-01: Initial release.
What a great site I have stumbled across here, so much useful information that I been searching the internet for over many years. I love this panorama angle chart calculator. I would like to see a radio button that allowed for switching between the camera being in portrait or landscape mode.
90% of the time I shoot panos with the camera in portrait mode, yet the calculator only seems to cater for landscape mode. ie for a 50mm the step angle is 25deg in landscape, I’d like to see a step angle for portrait mode that being 17.5deg (using your calculations)
This specific tool doesn’t really care about the camera’s orientation (landscape v. portrait), you just plug in whatever angle you want/need. I shoot all my panos the same way you do, camera in portrait orientation. That said, there’s really no bias here either way, it just uses an angle (and the example angle was chosen at random).
If you’re using my DoF tool (via the link in the text under the step angle text box), you can pick on the DoF calculator whether you want to use the camera in portrait or landscape.
E.g., if you’re follow the link to the DoF calc page, and you plug in a 50mm for the focal length and full frame for the format, down in the right column under Pano Shifts, you’ll see horizontal and vertical with linked text for the degrees. Horizontal gives the shift needed if the camera is horizontal/landscape and vertical gives the shift if you’re shooting vertical/portrait.
For example, what I’ll do when I need to calculate the shift charts, is click the link to take me to the DoF calculator. There I’ll, plug in my lens’s focal length, and full frame (since that’s the format I shoot). Then I look down in the Pano Shifts section in the results column, and click the angle next to vertical (since I shoot panos with the camera vertically). This takes me back to the pano shift image calculator, with the 17.5° shift angle set in the step angle field. I can then fill out the notes and, if necessary, change the center shift angle, and download the images I need.
Hope that helps.
This is a great reference site. I use it often, and the more I use it, the more I remember important parameters for my equipment and applications. I’ve used it for years now, and it was time to thank you for providing this great resource!